OpenLeft’s Mike Lux, in his recently posted My Veep Thoughts, makes the following observation:
3. Speaking of women, while I have less fervent views on this than many people, my first choice would not be Hillary. There would be a lot of good things about it, but I’ve been convinced by all the ad nauseum debate that the negatives outweigh the positives. I also admit I’m a little nervous about the Bill Clinton soap opera factor.
Another woman was originally my first choice, with both Gov. Sebelius and Napolitano being appealing to me. But I have had one woman friend after another, including some Obama supporters, tell me that they think putting a woman on the ticket other than Hillary would be perceived as a slap at Hillary. I don’t quite get that, but I’ve been convinced that this would be a real problem.
Let’s think about that. Putting Kathleen Sebelius or Janet Napolitano (or any other woman) on the ticket would be a ‘slap at Hillary’. And for this reason alone, it’s a bad idea to put a woman on the ticket. I agree with Lux that a lot of women are saying this. I’ve certainly heard it repeated frequently. I totally reject the logic.
Consider the set of people that would love to see a woman attain the presidency. Now consider the subset of that group that would like to see Hillary Clinton attain the presidency. Now consider the subset of that group that would be opposed to seeing any woman aside from Hillary Clinton attain the presidency. This last subset is tiny compared to either of the first two groupings. For the vast majority of people that want to see a woman in the White House, it would be preferable if Hillary Clinton were not that woman. An even greater percentage would be appalled to see deference to Clinton stand in the way of an opportunity for another qualified woman.
In short, who cares whether a Sebelius or Napolitano on the ticket is some kind of slap at Hillary Clinton? From an electability point of view this argument makes no sense at all. There are tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of independent and conservative women that would never vote for Hillary Clinton but would vote for Kathleen Sebelius. Moreover, Clinton simply isn’t going to be on the ticket, so why should her ego present one more barrier to women attaining the highest reaches of power? Very, very few women are so devoted to Hillary Clinton that they would want to risk another several election cycles without a woman on the ticket just to protect her position as the top female leader of the party (and, in any case, that position currently belongs to Speaker Pelosi).
The reasons I like Kathleen Sebelius for vice-president are manifold. As a governor, she has an executive experience. As the popular governor of a red state, she fits into Obama’s message of post-partisanship and a 50-state strategy. As a Catholic she helps bring in a key swing demographic. Since her father was once governor of Ohio, she can help modestly in a key swing state. And she’s been a die-hard supporter of Obama’s and has worked hard for his campaign. She’s flat-out qualified and she’s earned her chance. I won’t be upset if Obama picks someone else, but I think she should be on the short list and get major consideration.
But she’s also a woman. And putting her on the ticket is a fantastic way to help most Democratic women get over their feeling of loss and frustration at Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful bid for the presidency. One reason losing Clinton hurt so much is because there aren’t any other obvious women in the queue to pick up the banner. Obama represents another eight years before another Democratic woman gets a chance. And after eight years, where will that woman come from? One way to solve that problem is to pick a woman right now to serve as vice-president. We have a few qualified candidates, and none more so than Sebelius. The sitting vice-president is always the favorite to succeed to a two-term president and that is one major reason that Obama should not select someone from Clinton’s camp just to try to create a little party unity. Obama won and his faction should get the spoils. But his faction never was anti-women, it was anti-DLC. Picking a woman running mate will only make that more clear.